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PICTURED – Two Nigerian actor brothers detained over Jussie Smollett attack, as it’s revealed they are FRIENDS with the Empire star amid claims the assault was staged to save his career
- Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo were picked up at Chicago O’Hare Airport on Wednesday
- The pair had just arrived back from Nigeria when they were taken into custody
- Both are actors and Ola appeared on Empire in 2015 as an extra
- They are friends with Smollett, who follows them on Instagram, and sometimes work out with them
- Both brothers shared photos and videos from their trip to Nigeria on Instagram
- Their lawyer says they are innocent and are ‘baffled’ by the allegations
- Chicago PD will not confirm source claims they are investigating the attack as a hoax
- They said on Friday that Smollett was still being treated ‘as a victim and not a suspect’
- Police are now treating the two brothers as potential suspects and not persons of interest but neither has been charged
The two Nigerian brothers being questioned over the Jussie Smollett attack are actors Abimbola ‘Abel’ and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, Obnoxious Media has exclusively revealed.
The pair were picked up by police at Chicago O’Hare Airport on Wednesday as they arrived back in America after visiting family in Nigeria to be questioned over the January 29 attack involving the star.
On Friday afternoon, they were arrested on suspicion of battery but they have not been charged.
Police can now hold them for an additional 24 hours without charge if the prosecutor’s office agrees, or must file charges by 5.45pm on Friday.
Family say they went to Africa on January 29, hours after the Smollett attack. Ola appeared on Empire in 2015 and both brothers have had minor roles on Chicago PD.
Smollett follows their joint Instagram account and, according to their lawyer, sometimes goes to the gym with them.
Obnoxious Media has identified photographs of one of the brothers inside the gym in Smollett’s apartment building in June. The gym is private to residents of the luxury condominium building.
On Thursday night, the star was accused by anonymous police sources cited by local networks of staging the attack.
The sources accused Smollett of orchestrating the hoax because he was being written out of the show and wanted to drum up publicity to save his role – a claim that has been strenuously denied by the show and uncorroborated by the police department.
In his reports to police, Smollett says he was attacked by two assailants whose facial features he could not make out but that it was a racist, homophobic ambush during which they called him ‘Empire f****t n****r’ and shouted: ‘This is MAGA country!’
The brothers’ names are also included on a list of evidence that was left at their home after Chicago PD officers ransacked it on Thursday and the pair are listed in public records as the tenants of that house.
Their lawyer insists they are not the people who attacked Jussie, revealing that the three are friends who sometimes work out together.
Police on Friday however said they were now being treated as ‘potential suspects’ instead of ‘persons of interest’.
Abimbola ‘Abel’ (left), 25, and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo (right) are the two brothers being questioned over the Jussie Smollett attack whose home was raided in Chicago on Wednesday
Chicago PD confirmed on Thursday that the pair seen in this image from surveillance footage around the time of the attack on January 29 (above) were the two people in custody. Obnoxious Media can confirm that those people are Abel and Ola Osundairo
‘The two individuals interviewed are classfied (sic) as potential suspects.
‘Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues,’ Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, said in a statement.
Before returning to the US on Wednesday, they shared photographs and videos on Instagram of their time in Nigeria.
Neither has been charged and Chicago Police Department has until 5.45pm on Friday to charge or release them.
The brothers’ lawyer Gloria Schmidt spoke out on Thursday to say they were ‘baffled’ by the allegations against them and that they are innocent.
‘They were actually detained at customs at O’Hare airport yesterday around 5:45 p.m.
Ola appeared on the second season of Empire as an extra. He is shown with Lee Daniels, the show’s creator, on set in 2015
The brothers’ names are included in this inventory list that police left with their relatives detailing all the items they took from the house as part of their investigation. The list included proof of residency for both brothers and bottles of LA’s Totally Awesome bleach
‘They had no idea what was going on, and they’ve been detained since then,’ Gloria Schmidt, the pair’s lawyer, told CBS Chicago on Thursday night.
‘When they first learned about what happened to him they were horrified.
Smollett wept in his first interview about the attack that was aired on Good Morning America on Thursday and said he was heartbroken that his story had been questioned
‘This is someone they know.
‘This is someone they’ve worked with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that.
‘They are really baffled why they are people of interest.
‘They really don’t understand how they even got information that linked them to this horrific crime, but they are not guilty of it,’ she said.
TMZ reported that detectives found the men by looking at ride-sharing history records from the night of the attack.
Smollett, 36, says he was attacked by two men on January 29 as he walked home from a Subway at 2am.
He has since said he believes he was targeted because he is a vocal critic of President Trump and that he would have had more public support if he had said his attackers were ‘black, Muslim or Mexican’.
Among items police seized from the home were black ski masks. It is not known if they were the same as those shown above which the brothers sell online. Smollett said one of his attackers was wearing a ski mask when he was attacked
January 29 12.30am: Neighbor claims to see two suspicious men, one with a rope, outside Smollett’s apartment building
2am: Smollett is filmed on surveillance cameras leaving Subway
Sometime in the next few minutes, he is attacked by the men as he talked on the phone with manager Brandon Z. Moore.
He is picked back up by surveillance cameras entering his apartment building afterwards,
2.35am: Frank Gatson, his friend who was in his apartment, insists that they call the police
2.42am: Police arrive at the actor’s apartment and find him still wearing the rope the attackers placed around his neck. It is not fastened in a noose and is slack.
Smollett takes himself to the hospital afterwards.
January 30: Chicago PD releases surveillance footage of persons of interest seen near the area of attack at around the same time. Smollett’s cast mates lead tributes to him and condemnations of the incident
Smollett’s manager, Brandon Z. Moore, tells Variety they were on the phone at the time of the incident and that he heard what the attackers say.
January 31st: President Trump condemns the attack as ‘horrible’
February 1st: Smollett’s family speaks out and labels the attack a ‘hate crime’
Smollett breaks his silence with his own statement slamming misinformation about the attack.
February 2nd: A defiant Smollett plays a sold out show at The Troubador in Los Angeles
February 5th: Chicago PD releases incident report which reveals Smollett did not want to call police. There is no mention of the MAGA country remark which he gave in a follow-up interview
Brandon Z. Moore, his manager, gives police a screenshot to prove their call.
February 11th: Smollett finally hands over redacted phone records to prove the phone call but police label them ‘insufficient’.
His neighbors say they don’t believe his version of events.
February 12th: Smollett’s rep releases statement to say he is the victim and that he has been telling the truth
February 13th: GMA teases interview with Smollett crying. Police say they are no further with inquiries.
February 14: Smollett’s full interview is aired between 7am and 8am.
At 9.40am, police announce they have ID’d the people in the video
While Chicago PD will not confirm on the record that the two men being questioned are the two black actors, they did tell Obnoxious Media on Thursday that they are the men who were seen in surveillance camera footage walking near the area of the attack at around the same time.
Smollett said on Thursday that he had ‘no doubt’ the people in the video were who punched him, tied a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him.
He said the attack, which only lasted around 30 seconds, included them saying: ‘This is MAGA country!’ and calling him ‘Empire f****t n****r’.
On Thursday, the show issued a statement to deny that Jussie was being written out of the show.
‘The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous.
‘He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him,’ it said.
Chicago police also would not confirm that it was a hoax.
‘Interviews will resume today with the two people of interest and their attorney.
‘While we haven’t found any video documenting the alleged attack.
This is the home in Chicago where the brothers live with their relatives. It was raided on Wednesday night
Chicago PD broke the door to the brothers’ family home when they raided it on Wednesday and terrified their relatives inside
This was the scene after the police had ‘searched’ the family’s home. Their relatives say they were asked about how the men knew Smollett
The photos show two men walking on North New Street (depicted above) near East Illinois Street around 1.45am on Tuesday. Smollett told police that he was walking alone down East North Water Street in the 300-block around 2am when the two men approached him
‘There is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax. The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as the victim, not a suspect.
‘The investigation continues,’ Anthony Guglielmi, Chicago PD spokesman, said on Friday.
In a tweet on Thursday, he slammed ABC Chicago for reporting unconfirmed source claims.
‘Media reports anout the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted ABC Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate,’ he added.
Police seized a black face mask hat, an Empire script, a phone, receipts, five bottles of bleach, a red hat, two laptops and other items from the home where the brothers live.
The relative, who was home when the raid happened on Wednesday night, described hearing loud banging on the door before police flooded into the home and announced that they had a search warrant.
The woman, who is in her 20s, told CBS Chicago she was ‘so scared’ and thought she was going to die. She said she was patted down by an officer and asked by detectives if she knew Smollett.
She said that she thinks the brothers are being question because of their loose Empire connection to Smollett and the fact that they left for Nigeria on the same day of the attack.
In his hour-long interview with Good Morning America that was aired in part on Thursday, Smollett, wearing a collection of badges to show his support of Freedom and Pride among other causes, revealed his frustration at some of the public disbelief surrounding his version of events.
The actor wept as he said ‘who the f*** would make that up’ when addressing the skepticism surrounding his version of events
He said he does not think he would have been met with the same cynicism if his attackers weren’t Trump supporters and revealed his belief that he was targeted because he is a vocal critic of the president.
Smollett also went into detail about why he did not immediately hand over his phone to the police to verify parts of his story and said he was trying to protect private photographs, videos, songs and phone numbers of high profile people and his partner.
He said he was frustrated that Chicago Police had not yet found surveillance footage of the incident and revealed his disappointment after learning that a camera at the very spot of the attack was turned in the opposite direction when it took place.
Choking back tears, he explained when asked why it took so long for him to contact the authorities: ‘There is a level of pride there. We live in a society where as a gay man you are considered somehow to be weak and I am not weak. I am not weak and we as a people are not weak.’
Describing the chain of events once police arrived at his apartment at the request of 60-year-old Frank Gatson, his friend who was at the apartment when the attack took place.
‘I told them what happened. I asked them to turn their body cameras off. I was like, “Please just come in.
‘I don’t want a big scene with my neighbors,”‘ he said, adding that he had left the rope around his neck and his bleach-doused clothes on for them to see.
He said that while he left the rope around his neck, it was not ‘wrapped’ tightly.
After the police had come into his apartment, he took them down to where the attack happened to walk them through it and became excited when he noticed a camera overlooking the exact spot where it took place.
Last week, police discovered a Chilli Habanero hot sauce bottle which seemed to contain bleach (above). It was found near where Smollett says he was attacked and had bleach poured on him . It was found 10 days after the attack
A week before the attack, Smollett received this threatening letter at the Fox studio where he works
‘I looked up and saw there was a camera, directly on the post on the intersection.
Smollett is pictured in the hospital after a friend called the police to report him being attacked. He did not want to involve authorities
‘Then the detective told me that the camera was facing north so they didn’t have it and that was disappointing.’
Later, he added how desperate he was for them to find footage of the attack.
‘I want that video found so badly because, for probably four reasons.
‘Number one, I want them to find the people that did it.
‘Number two, I want them to stop being able to say “alleged” attack.
‘Number three, I want them to see that I fought back,’ he continued, welling-up.
‘I want a little gay boy who might watch this to see that I fought the f*** back. They ran off,’ I didn’t,’ he said.
He was overcome with emotion when presented with the prospect that his attackers might not be found.
‘Let’s just hope that they are found.
‘Let’s not go there yet. I was talking to a friend and I said,”I just hope they find them.” And she said, “Sweetie, they’re not going to find them.”
‘I fought the f*** back’ Jussie Smollett speaks out about attack